Dispute 20. May 2020

Poland: Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0 – remote hearings and closed-door sessions in civil cases

20. May 2020
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Marek Wojnar
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act legal Poland

May 16, 2020 was the effective date for most provisions of the Act of May 14, 2020, amending specific acts in terms of protective actions related to the spread of SARS-CoV2 (Dz. U. / Journal of Laws of 2020, item 875), commonly referred to as “Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0.” Civil procedure has been amended to extend the possibility to conduct remote hearings (videoconferencing) and issue rulings at closed-door sessions.

Pursuant to the newly-adopted Act, the following will apply to cases examined under the Code of Civil Procedure during the state of epidemic or epidemic threat, and for a year of the end of the later of them:

• videoconferencing will be used for court proceedings. In order to have a remote hearing, the parties to the procedure needed to be in court buildings, e.g. in their city/town of residence. Now they will be able to participate without leaving their home. Traditional hearings can be held under exceptional circumstances, as long as they do not pose a major threat to the participants’ health. The lawmaker left ample room for interpretation as regards the criteria to adopt for evaluation whether the hearing will not expose participants to excessive hazard. It seems that such criteria could include the age of participants, their total number, the stage of epidemic, etc.;

• if the court is unable to conduct a remote hearing, while a traditional one might pose a threat to the participants’ health, the court will be entitled to examine the case at a closed-door session, unless any party objects. An objection can be filed within 7 days of the delivery of a notice about a closed-door session. Only individuals that are not represented by a professional legal advisor will be notified about such right to object;

• if so decided by the president of the court, the judging panel (apart from the presiding judge and clerk) may participate in the hearing through means of electronic communication (i.e. they will be able to participate from home), except for the hearing at which the case gets closed;

• in cases where the evidentiary procedure has already been completed, the court may close the case and issue a ruling at a closed-door session, after receiving the parties’ (or participants’) written positions;

• the period of application of article 374 of the Code of Civil Procedure has been extended, making it possible to examine appeals brought before November 07, 2019 at closed-door hearings (unless a party applies for a standard hearing or for evidence involving testimony of witnesses/parties). A request for a standard hearing can be filed within 7 days of the delivery of a notice about a closed-door session. In same of withdrawal of a lawsuit or appeal, or with respect to invalidation of proceedings, the court examines the case at a closed-door hearing.

Please feel free to contact us for any questions you might have.

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Marek Wojnar
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act legal - BSWW legal & tax
About the authors

Marek Wojnar

Managing partner

Marek specializes in real estate, construction, corporate law, M&A, and acquisition/sale of aircrafts and yachts. He has vast experience in real property sale and acquisitions, leasing processes and implementation of infrastructure (energy and motorway) projects. Marek has worked on a large number of projects for IT and telecommunications companies, while at the same time providing legal advisory services related to cooperation with start-ups. He also has a long track record of transactions involving the sale, chartering and lease of planes, helicopters, yachts and superyachts. He co-heads the firm’s Italian Desk, assisting a number of Italian clients in Poland and Polish clients that run their business in Italy.

Barbara Szczepkowska

Partner

Her practice focuses on bankruptcy and restructuring proceedings regarding businesses, during which she represents creditors and debtors alike. Having advised receivers, court-appointed supervisors and administrators, she boasts vast experience in advising insolvency practitioners. During restructuring processes, she has drafted key documents addressed to bodies handling the proceedings, such as restructuring plans and arrangement viability opinions. She assisted in proceedings involving over 1500 creditors and PLN 500m in debt, advising clients on all the facets of the process, from the selection of best-suited type of restructuring proceedings, through petition drafting and the court’s approval of the arrangement. Moreover, Barbara offers support in pre-pack liquidation proceedings. Bankruptcy and restructuring proceedings have also been the focus of numerous legal opinions prepared by her. Barbara has successfully protected clients’ interests in a few dozen personal bankruptcy processes ending in the release of former business owners and management board members (among others) from their debts. One of her clients had a record-high debt of over PLN 90m. She also represents clients before courts in a variety of other cases, including ones regarding complex fraudulent transfer claims (also ones involving a receiver) and major damages recovery cases, e.g., against receivers in connection with damage caused by them in bankruptcy proceedings. She also handled litigation between a creditor and a receiver aiming to determine whether the transfer of the bankrupt’s patent rights to the receiver was ineffective vis à vis the bankruptcy estate, which she won following an appeal. Prior to joining act BSWW, Barbara worked for many years for Zimmerman i Wspólnicy.

Marek Miszkiel

Partner

Marek provides ongoing legal support to businesses, mostly construction and investment companies. He has participated in numerous due diligence audits regarding real properties and companies. Marek is also adept at solving commercial disputes in terms of pre-trial and trial procedure. His range of duties also includes representing both creditors and bankrupts alike in bankruptcy proceedings.

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